Brexit FAQs

With the government’s negotiations with the EU continuing, it’s understandable that you may be concerned about what this means for your pension. At the moment, we can’t say with any certainty what the impact of the negotiations will be. However, we’re taking a proactive approach to planning for the future, and detailed work is being undertaken to prepare for any potential implications.

In the meantime, this page will address some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received from our members. The answers are based on our understanding of current legislation and UK Government plans.

How will the UK’s future relationship with the EU impact my pension?

USS is a hybrid occupational pension scheme, largely governed by UK domestic law. As such, the UK leaving the EU doesn’t directly affect USS benefits and the way the scheme is run.

Defined Benefit arrangements, such as the Retirement Income Builder, are based on a promise to provide a defined level of pension on retirement or death, and there is no current indication that these would be directly affected by the terms of any deal with the EU.

There is also no indication of any impact on the structure of Defined Contribution pensions, such as the Investment Builder. Benefits in the Investment Builder are determined by the contributions paid in by you and your employer, and how well the contributions perform when invested. The value of investments (which can go up or down) could be impacted by the markets’ response to any arrangements negotiated between the UK and the EU. This is not something we can control so we encourage you to closely monitor how your investments perform during (and immediately following) this transition period and carefully consider (and take independent financial advice where appropriate) whether you should be making any changes to your investment choices. This is not something we are able to give you any advice on, as this will depend on your personal and financial circumstances.

Further information about the USS Investment Builder and the performance of funds can be found in the Guide to investing in the USS Investment Builder and the USS Funds performance page.

Will you still be able to pay my pension?

In this period of uncertainty, it’s understandable that you might have some concerns about receiving your pension, particularly if you live overseas.

At USS we have members who live all over the world, and we pay their pensions on a monthly basis. We expect that we would still be able to make pension payments to EU citizens in the same way as we currently do for members living outside of the EU.

If you live in the UK, your pension payments should not be affected.

Whether you live abroad or in the UK, we’ll be monitoring the position and will provide further updates to this page as the situation develops.

Will tax on my pension change?

Tax on pensions for UK residents is not set to change as a result of the UK leaving the EU. If you live overseas, you might have to pay UK tax on your pension as well as tax in the country you live in, depending on your tax residency status, much in the same way as today. It’s currently unclear how the UK’s future relationship with the EU will affect the amount of tax you’ll have to pay.

If you’re planning on moving overseas, you must tell HM Revenue and Customs so that you pay the correct level of tax. As tax laws are different in each country, it’s always best to seek independent financial advice if you’re unsure.

Can I transfer my pension out of USS and the UK

If you’re actively paying into your pension or you’re retired, you can’t transfer savings from the Retirement Income Builder to another scheme, but you can transfer any savings you’ve built up in the Investment Builder.

If you’re not paying in to your USS pension or receiving benefits (deferred member), you can transfer your USS pension savings to another scheme.

If you’re living or working overseas and are eligible to transfer your pension savings, you can transfer them to an overseas scheme as long as it is recognised by HM Revenue & Customs as a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS).

Transferring your pension overseas could change the amount you get when you retire, and you may have to pay additional charges or tax. We don’t know what these charges or taxes might be in the future or how the UK’s future relationship with the EU may impact transferring your pension overseas.

Defined benefits, such as those you receive with the Retirement Income Builder are a valuable investment. Therefore, if you’re considering transferring to another scheme, we encourage you to take independent financial advice before moving your retirement savings.

It is a legal requirement to take independent financial advice when transferring defined benefit rights from a scheme like USS to a defined contribution scheme when the defined benefit transfer is £30,000 or more.

If you need impartial guidance about the options you have with the Investment Builder, you could contact the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS). MAPS is the government service that brings together Pension Wise, the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service. You can visit MAPS at maps.org.uk, or you can contact them by email at: contact@maps.org.uk or phone 01159 659 570.

Will I still be able to take a lump sum out of my pension?

The UK’s future relationship with the EU will not impact your benefit options. However, when you’re making a decision about how you want to use your USS benefits, you may want to seek independent financial advice to see what works best for you.

If you need impartial guidance about the options you have with the Investment Builder, you could contact the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS). MAPS is the government service that brings together Pension Wise, the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service. You can visit MAPS at maps.org.uk, or you can contact them by email at: contact@maps.org.uk or phone 01159 659 570.


Due to uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU, these answers are subject to change and may be updated as appropriate, when more information becomes available. Information provided is correct at the time of publishing.


Last updated: 26/03/2020